Élisabeth/Isabelle COUC dit LAFLEUR/MONTOUR

Madame Montour

For anyone still not convinced that the daughter of Pierre Couc born in 1667-- Élisabeth / Isabelle / Marie Couc dite Lafleur de Cognac / wife of Germano, wife of Tichenet, wife of the Iroquois sachem Carundowana-- is Madame Montour of New York and Pennsylvania, here are a few passages from my work-in-progress. As it is in progress, please excuse any typos. Unless otherwise indicated, all material in brackets added by me.

In addition to Simone Vincens, _Madame Montour et son temps_, 1979, see also the articles in the _Dictionary of Canadian Biography_ , although they are not totally accurate. Specifically, see: Vol. II, "Chabert de Joncaire, Louis-Thomas" by Yves F. Zoltvany, _1969_; and Vol. III, "Couc, Elizabeth? (La Chenette, Techenet; Montour)", _1974_, by William A. Hunter, who cites no French language sources (except the outdated but sometimes valuable nineteenth-century Tanguay), and who uses only the incomplete Cadillac Papers English translation of French documents from the Colonial Archives. The nineteenth-century Michigan Pioneer Historical Collection translation of the Cadillac Papers spells the name TECHENET, and it is this spelling Hunter used. I also used it in my 1999 and 2000 articles published in _Michigan's Habitant Heritage_. I had not then read the French originals, which definitely read TICHENET, nor had I yet seen the microfilm of the _original_ registers of Sainte-Anne du Détroit, which Pierre Tichenet signed "Pierre Tichenet" and "Tihenet"; nor the two notarial documents at Batiscan, which he also signed Pierre Tichenet -- "pier ti chenet"-- when he served as a witness for concessions of property granted there by the Jesuit François Vaillant. Both documents were written on 4 May 1697.

[NOTE: I am not going to add _all_ of the citations to primary sources in this section, but I have them. Please also note that the publication date of a _secondary_ source is very important, as further research in _primary_ sources, including my research, has occurred in recent years. When I use sic in brackets, this indicates the words are as found in the source.]

There is no extant marriage record for Isabelle Couc and Pierre Tichenet, but she is called La femme de Tichenet --wife of Tichenet-- by 1704 in the French colonial documents. and both she and he are documented at Fort Pontchartrain (now Detroit, Michigan) between 1704 and 1706, even serving as godparents together 21 April 1706 at the baptism of Pierre Roy, son of Pierre Roy and his wife Marguerite OuabanKiKoué, a Miami Indian. Tichenet was killed during the Ottawa / Miami conflict at Fort Pontchartrain in 1706, according to Jean Leblanc (Outoutagan, an Ottawa / Odawa of the Sable subgroup), speaking in June 1707 to Governor Vaudreuil at Montréal.

In August of 1691, Tichenet, along with Ignace Durand and Charles Couturier, all from Batiscan, where Pierre Couc at one time had property, were loaned 300 livres, some of which was for merchandise to trade in their voyage to the "Outaouas", to be repaid by August of the following year. The loan was granted by Jean Péré, an important and interesting merchant, a witness at Pierre Couc's marriage in 1657 and godfather at the baptism 5 June 1664 of Marguerite Couc at Trois-Rivières. Godmother was Jeanne Crevier, wife of the Pierre Boucher who visited France and wrote a history of the colony. Acting for Péré at the 1691 contract was Joseph Delestre, Péré's nephew. Tichenet thus was a legal voyageur and not a soldier as Simone Vincens (1979) identifies him. There is at least one more hiring contract on record for Pierre Tichenet but it is missing, as is one between "Sr. Fafard and Sr. Tinchenet", whether the father(s) or the son(s) bearing these names cannot be determined in the notation in Antoine Roy's index of the notary Adhémar's papers. Pierre's father, Alexandre, was associated with Nicolas Perrot in voyages made to the "MasKoutains and Nadouassous" prior to 1687, and he transferred to Perrot all of his rights and profits resulting from their society. There are several more notarial documents for Alexandre, one for another son, and then Alexandre, his wife Marie Bouillon, and other members of the family simply drop out of sight. It is possible the parents returned to France. Alexandre "Téchenay", as Jetté spells the name, was a member of the Carignan Regiment, as was Joachim Germano, Isabelle's first husband.

See also Yves F. Zoltvany in his biography of Philippe Rigaud de Vaudreuil, who authorized the killing of Montour. (_Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil: Governor of New France_, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1974)

Zoltvany mentions April, 1709, for the killing of Montour, citing Peter Wraxall, _An Abridgement of the Colony of New York from the Year 1678 to the Year 1751_, Edited by C. H. McIlwain, Harvard University Press: 1915. (Wraxall's abridgment is a partial transcript of records which no longer exist, so it is technically a secondary source, although his work is contemporary with some of the events recorded. Even his manuscript notes are gone, having been destroyed in a 1911 New York State Capitol fire.) April of 1709 is about two years after Montour's sister, La femme de Tichenet, is documented as allegedly leaving Fort Pontchartrain with plans to go over to the English with her brother.

In addition, Zoltvany cites Vaudreuil à Pontchartrain, 14 novembre 1709, AN Col., C11 A, vol. 30, which I have from National Archives of Canada, microfilm #F-30, f. 50. This document gives Vaudreuil's reasons for having Montour, the son of a Frenchman and a "sauvagess", killed that year. Three years earlier, in 1706, Vaudreuil established a family relationship between Montour and La Tichenette (or La femme de Tichenet, the wife of Tichenet), whom Vaudreuil says Cadillac used as a "truchement" or interpreter. This same wife of Tichenet, when present at Michilimackinac during Cadillac's tenure there, was said to have a brother-in-law named Maurice Ménard, husband of Madeleine Couc. As Ménard's other sisters-in-law, Angélique and Marguerite, were married to other men in 1704, La femme de Tichenet cannot be one of them. Under the name "La femme de Tichenet", Isabelle was present and interpreting at Fort Pontchartrain in 1704, according to Cadillac himself writing in 1704, and also there. under the name Élisabeth Couc, according to the records of a legal case charging Cadillac with misdeeds at the fort.


Peter Wraxall in: Harvard Historical Studies, vol. XXI, p. 50, writes: ". . . Montour an Indian who came over from the French to this Govt brings several farr Indians to Trade at Albany & receives a Reward for the same, tho I think not equal to his Service, (being but £ 5). However he promises to go among the farr Nations again & bring down more Indians.-- . . . " [sic] Date not given in this excerpt but (page 55) ". . .Albany 20 July 1708 --

"My Lord Cornbury present.

"Some far or Western Indians settled about Lake Erie or Tughsackrondie [Detroit] come to Albany & accquaint his Excellcy Viz.

"We are come here from our own Country to see you tho much against the persuasions of the Govr of Canada who ordered us to the Contrary.

"We are not come about any Land or public affairs but only to Trade & Traffick, & there are a great number of our Neighbours & Country Men would come hither to Trade but the Govr of Canada doth hinder them but we are broke thro notwithstand."

The reference to Montour and _his sister_ appears in Wraxall, vol. XXI, pp. 64-68, transcribed on the website below. There it begins, without a date for the entry, part way into page 64, with a description of the assassination, and says it occurred "about 12 days ago". Wraxall, in his footnote on the name Montour, says: "1. Tho the Records do not say who this Montour was, yet from various circumstances I gather, that he was an Indian who had formerly been in the Service of the French & was by them deemed one of their Indians, (of what particular Nation I cant find but I believe either a Senneca or Mohawk Indian who had been made a convert by the Jesuits) but had now come over to this Govt & was employed to Negotiate our Interest with the Western or farr Indians." [as written] This is obviously a guess.

The next entry is for 17 May 1709 [Old Style** ] at Albany, reporting:
"Yesterday arrived here a Sachem called Kaqucka of the Messasaga Nation commonly called by the Name of the farr Nations with 4 Indians of the same Nation who came with Montour to the 5 Nations & were conducted hither by Montours [sic] Sister." The sachems say, "We are come upon the word of Montour. . . . We have had a great Loss having lost the Man who guided us" and "we have had a great Loss by Montours Death. . ." [as written]

You can view these pages at the THE OHIO VALLEY-GREAT LAKES ETHNOHISTORY ARCHIVES: THE MIAMI COLLECTION  http://www.gbl.indiana.edu/home.html  in the documents that include the year 1709.

** Old Style dates were approximately eleven days earlier than New Style dates at this time. Although France converted its calendar upon Pope Gregory's decree in 1582, and New France, of course, observed the calendar of France, Great Britain and the American Colonies did not. The official British Colonies of North America did not adopt New Style until 1752. For the French / New France records there is no need to speak of "January 1, 1674/1675" or "February 23, 1714/1715", and I have permanently banned the feature on my genealogy program that automatically gives the date in the double format. New France followed New Style from its very beginnings in the 1600s. In fact, Detroit may be the only US city that never had dates recorded according to the Old Style from its very beginning in 1701. The British were not really there until after 1763, and the Americans not until 1796. See http://pages.infinit.net/histoire/date.html


In addition to being erroneously identified as the daughter of Montour (whether Louis Couc Montour or some other "Montour") on several web references and in books and articles, Madame Montour is also identified as the wife or daughter of a Roland Montour. United States historian Daniel Richter says Montour's first name is Alexander. I have seen no evidence of either. William M. Darlington, writing in _1880_, gave his version of Montour's background, and it is probably his _version_ that perpetuated her being called the daughter of Montour. United States writers persisted in believing she had to be either the wife or daughter of a man named Montour because they knew little or nothing about the French dit and dite name tradition. Here is Darlington, definitely a secondary source:

"About the year 1667 a French Gentleman named Montour settled in Canada. By a Huron Indian woman he had three children, one son and two daughters. The son 'Montour' lived with the Indians, and was wounded in the French Service, in a fight with some Mohawks, near Fort La Motte, on Lake Champlain, in 1694. He deserted from the French, and lived with 'the farr Indians'. The Twightwicks (Miamis) and Dinondadies (Pétuns or Wyandots) [sic]. By his assistance Lord Cornbury prevailed on some of these tribes to visit and trade with the people of Albany in 1708." [Parenthetic information as it appears in Darlington.] Wm. M. Darlington, "The Montours," _Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography_, 4: 2, April 1880. See also William M. Darlington, "The Montours," in _Christopher Gist's Journals_, Pittsburgh: J. R. Weldin & Co., _1893_, p. 152 of 152-175. Darlington cites "Letter of Lord Cornbury, Governor of New York, to the Board of Trade, August 20, 1708. N. Y. Col. Hist., vol. v. p. 65.

Of these comments, only the last, the reference to Lord Cornbury, is totally accurate, the encounter with the Mohawks taking place in _1695_, and the "Huron Indian woman" designation being a guess made years after the fact.

In his letter from New York on 20 August 1708, Cornbury's _exact_ words are:
"I did in a letter of the 25th day of June last, inform your Lordships that three French soldiers, who had deserted from the French at a place called by them Le Destroit, were come to Albany." "Le Destroit" is obviously Detroit, then called Fort Pontchartrain / Le Détroit du Lac Érie by the French. The original Cornbury letter is transcribed in the New York Colonial Manuscripts, London Documents, Vol. V, Book XVIL, pp. 64-66, CD-Rom version.

In addition to these soldiers, Cornbury mentions another "deserter", whom he questioned, _and_:
"Besides this deserter, there is come to Albany one Montour, who is the son of a French gentleman, who came above forty years ago to settle in Canada; he had to do with an Indian woman, by whom he had a son and two daughters. The man I mention is the son. He had lived all along like an Indian. Sometime ago, he left the French, and had lived among the Far Indians; and it is chiefly by his means that I have prevailed with those Far Nations to come to Albany."

In using the Cornbury letter as a source, Darlington evidently chose to interpret the phrase "above forty years ago" as the forty-first year, 1667. Pierre Couc, however, was in New France by 1651, Louis being born in 1659, Isabelle in 1667. Darlington also did not hesitate to supply a Nation for the "Indian woman", although Cornbury does not identify it. Elsewhere in the letter Cornbury identifies the "Far Nations" as "Twigtwicks and Dinnondadoes; the nearest of their castles is eight hundred miles from Albany."

Charles Hanna, _ Wilderness Trail_, Vol. 1, originally published 1911, reprint by Wennawoods Publishing, 1995, is another secondary source that perpetuates the "myth" that Madame Montour is the daughter of Montour, although Hanna was aware that Benjamin Sulte, by 1895, had made a connection between the Couc family of New France and the Montours of New York and thus Hanna _guesses_ Louis's Sokokis wife, Madeleine, is Madame Montour's mother.


This next record from the Commission on Indian Affairs at Albany (found in the Canadian Archives) makes both Madame Montour's and MONTOUR's (that is Louis Couc dit Montour's) identity quite obvious and refutes all other "guesses":

"Jean Fafar alias Maconts and Joseph Montour the first being nephew & the last Son of Montour who was murderd by means of the french for Incouraging the far Indians to come to trade with the Inhabitants of this Province, appeared before this Board . . . " [all copied as written] Minutes, Jan. 7, 1723 - Sept.4, 1732, RG 10, vol. 1819: 137a, National Archives of Canada microfilm C-1220. Photocopy. Original is in English.

"Jean Fafar alias Maconts" is Jean Fafard dit Maconce, _son_ of Jean Fafard dit Maconce (Algonquin for ourson or bear cub, sometimes mistranscribed as Macouce), interpreter and voyageur, and Marguerite Couc, the sister of Jeanne, Louis, Angélique, Isabelle, Madeleine, and Jean-Baptiste Couc, thus nephew to Louis and his brother and sisters. His father, Jean Fafard, the interpreter for the King in the Ottawa language, was cited as Makons or Macons by _at least_ 1691, the same year as Tichenet's hiring contract. Governor Frontenac granted "Macons" permission to take necessary items to "MissilimaKina", to winter there, and to return with pelletries. The document, in two parts, 23 July 1691 and 27 August 1691, is signed "jean fafart". Jean Fafard was working for Cadillac at Michillimakinac along with Jean Beauvais in July of 1695. This latter's signature is written "iean beavves", all in block letters. The contract was written at Michillimakinac, signed also by Jean "Fafart", called MACONS in the text. Document at Chicago Historical Society (hereafter CHS), photocopies. Jean Fafard dit Maconce died sometime before his widow Marguerite Couc remarried to Michel Massé before about 1703.

It is _possible_ Jean Fafard dit Maconce's wife, Marguerite Couc, accompanied him to Michillimakinac and that some or all of their Fafard children were born there, as their baptismal records are not extant, nor are those of their Germaneau / Montour cousins and some of their Ménard and Delpé dit St. Serny cousins. Notations that Antoine Ménard was baptized at Michilimackinac in 1695 and that his parents married there do exist, thus placing Madeleine Couc there. Neither notation is an original record. Early church records at Michilimackinac have not survived in any _original_ form until the 1740s. (See FHL #0865224, "Ancien registre. . . de Michillimakinac 1695-1821). Jean Fafard is also documented at Michilimackinac during Cadillac's tenure (1694-1697) in connection with testimony he gave about the Durand / Moreau legal dispute with Cadillac, and is also cited by Moreau. (Documents from CHS and Archives Nationale du Québec) I _believe_ all the Couc women, except Jeanne, went to the Pays-d'en-haut. Records are also missing for Fort Pontchartrain / Le Détroit du Lac Érié, or modern-day parish of Sainte-Anne de Detroit, and definitely for the Jesuit missions at Baie-des-Puants (Green Bay, Wisconsin), and St. Joseph Miami (Niles, Michigan), and all the early posts on the Mississippi and elsewhere.

The younger Jean Fafard dit Maconce and Joseph Montour, "Son of Montour", are not the only relatives of Isabelle and Louis Couc dit Montour known to be in New York or Pennsylvania while Isabelle / Madame Montour was there, as documented in the United States colonial documents. In a letter addressed to Thomas Penn, 22 August 1733, James Logan speaks of their brother, known in the New France records as Jean-Baptiste Couc, husband of Anne, an Indian, but whom Logan identifies in this way:

"John Montour, Brother to Madam Montour (so called), formerly wife to Carundawana, alias Rob Hunter, is husband, as he says to Anameackhiskaman, who with her son claimes [sic] some Land at or near Leckey, or forks of Delaware, above Durham . . . ." [parenthetic information added in the original]

This letter was written to introduce John Montour, who will be the "Bearer" of it, to Thomas Penn, one of the sons of the famous Quaker William Penn. I have to wonder whether John ever knew the letter's contents because Logan characterizes him in an unflattering but nevertheless picturesque way, saying he is "very noisy & troublesome . . . a senseless fellow, and is like his sister as an oyster is to an apple." Logan then provides another image of Madame Montour as he saw her in 1733, when Isabelle would have been sixty-six years old. After first reporting that John "says his sister will be in town [Philadelphia] in a day or two," Logan adds, in closing the letter:

"She is of another make [from her brother], but _ancient_, & should be well treated. Pray know of her in ye [the] most proper manner whether ever she reced [received] that suit of clothes wch [which] I sent her about 8 years since, in your names, by Henry Smith." James Logan to Thomas Penn, from Stenton, 22nd of Aug, 1733, Papers Relating to Provincial Affairs, Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Vol. VII, Harrisburg: 1896, p. 156, emphasis on "ancient" mine. I assume the "your names" refers to the two Penn brothers, sons of the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.

Although Isabelle was only six years older than her brother Jean, James Logan considers her "ancient" and to be treated with respect, in the "most proper manner". Those who give a birth date later than 1667 for Madame Montour, such as 1684, in reality Isabelle's year of marriage to Germano, obviously do not know this reference. Someone born in 1684 or later would have been only 49 or younger in 1733, hardly "ancient" even for the eighteenth century. Women are documented as giving birth then well into their 40s and even in their early 50s.


PRDH says Jean Couc and Anne married before 1706-11-24, when their son Jean-Baptiste was born and baptized four days later at Lachine on 1706-11-28, #13817. Anne is identified as an Abénaquise on the baptism record. Godparents were Lambert "Cuillerie" and Catherine Patissier. Interestingly, when their son François, age seven, died and was buried 1711-07-14 at Montréal, JEAN KOUK is given the "Origin" AMERINDIEN by PRDH, and ANNE, Amerindienne, #50689. PRDH. These terms are relatively modern ones. The register actually reads: "François Kouk sauvage décédé à l'Hôtel-Dieu de cette ville agé de sept ans fils de Jean Kouk et de Anne sa femme" (photocopy). Once again an index version is not totally accurate.

Obviously, I have much more, some of which I have recently found in the French documents. My "All Sources Are Not Created Equal: the Couc Montour families of New France and the English Colonies of New York and Pennsylvania" article now runs 77 pages, and I'm not finished. Perhaps it will become a book.

Suzanne Boivin Sommerville (1)

(1) Email message:
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 07:25:08 -0400
From: Suzanne B Sommerville
Subject: Re: More revisions, 2
To: Norm Leveillee
Dear Norm,
If you want to post the revised version, go ahead.

Thank you. Merci bien. Ktsi Oleoneh